Entering into his seventh season as a coach for Brock’s varsity curling teams, Murray Etherington is looking at new ways to improve the program. The Brock men’s team has not won a gold medal in OUA Curling since the 2006/07 season, while the women have not done so since the 2005/06 year.
“Every time we go to the finals and lost it has been to Laurier,” said Etherington, a nationally certified curling coach. “There are really only two other universities more successful than us.”
The goal for Etherington is to get his players to buy into the idea that they are, in fact, athletes. The curling program is now working with the athletes outside of the rink to become stronger. Over the last couple years, the coaches have been stressing fitness, and are bringing strength and conditioning into the program, along with nutrition and sports psychology.
“Curling has come a long way, now that it’s an Olympic sport,” said Etherington. “The curlers now are total athletes, so that’s what we are bringing it into our program. We are really stressing to the curlers that they are athletes like all other athletes, so they should train like athletes.”
The Brock curling teams have a combined three athletes that are dual-athletes for Brock. Eric Bradey, is unclear if he will be playing for Brock curling this year as he is also on the men’s soccer team. Joanna Francolini on the women’s side is also a cross country runner for Brock.
The curling program has also added three development teams along with the two varsity teams. The women have two development teams for a total of 12 athletes and the men have one development team for a total of eight athletes. The program has also seen an increase of people trying out for the team.
“We are setting our system where we bring young people and get them ready to step into a varsity role a couple years into their university [career],” said Etherington. “Team dynamic in curling is huge, because it is only four people on the ice. It’s not a big team, so you have to really support and trust each other.”
Etherington has been coaching the women for almost six seasons, but will shift his focus to the men this year. While the program has five other coaches as well, his goals with this switch is to bring the dynamics he has created with the women to the men’s team as well.
The men will see three players from last season returning for sure, Jonah Mondioch, who played vice last year; Jamie Waters, played lead last season; and Ryan Brown, who played second. The women saw two key players graduate last season, but will still have Francolini along, with Lauren Calvert, Samantha Morris and Terri Weeks.
Last year was a good year for both teams. The men fell one game shy of a bronze medal, and the women won a silver in the OUA. Etherington and the women’s team also travelled to China to represent Canada against other national teams.
Both curling teams will begin their season on October 31 at the Trent Invitational as they build towards winning more at the OUA Championships in February. The women also participate in a curling league in St. Catharines every Tuesday nights at the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club. The men do the same, but on Thursday’s. Etherington hopes that changes within the program and play against other competition could bring the program back to the top of the OUA.